The Youth’s Instructor


March 8, 1904

Lessons from the Life of Daniel

The Fiery Furnace


The golden image set up in the plain of Dura, an image ninety feet in height and nine in breadth, presented an imposing and majestic appearance. Nebuchadnezzar issued a proclamation, calling upon all the officers of the kingdom to assemble at the dedication of this image, and, at the sound of musical instruments, to bow down and worship it. Should any fail of doing this, they were immediately to be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. YI March 8, 1904, par. 1

The appointed day came, and at the sound of the music the vast company that was assembled at the king's command, “fell down, and worshiped the golden image.” “At that time certain Chaldeans came near, ... and said to the king Nebuchadnezzar, O king, live forever.... There are certain Jews whom thou hast set over the affairs of the province of Babylon, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego; these men, O king, have not regarded thee: they serve not thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” YI March 8, 1904, par. 2

Filled with rage, the king commanded that the men be brought before him. “Is it true,” he inquired, “do ye not serve my gods, nor worship the golden image which I have set up?” Pointing to the angry furnace, he reminded them of the punishment that would be theirs if they refused to obey his will. YI March 8, 1904, par. 3

The king decided to give them a second trial. “If ye be ready,” he said, “at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of music, ye fall down and worship the image which I have made; well; but if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.” Then, with hand stretched upward in defiance, he asked, “And who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?” YI March 8, 1904, par. 4

In vain were the king's threats. He could not turn these noble men from their allegiance to the great Ruler of nations. From the history of their fathers, they had learned that disobedience to God results in dishonor, disaster, and death; that the fear of the Lord is not only the beginning of wisdom, but the foundation of all true prosperity. They knew that they owed to God every faculty they possessed; and while their hearts were full of generous sympathy toward all men, they had a lofty aspiration to prove themselves loyal to God. YI March 8, 1904, par. 5

When the king was troubled in regard to his dream, these men, with Daniel, had fasted and prayed, that they might understand the dream. The Lord had heard their cries, and he had given to Daniel wisdom to interpret the dream to the king. Thus their own lives and the lives of the astrologers and soothsayers had been saved. Now the very men who had escaped death through the mercy of God to his servants, had been the prime movers in securing the decree in regard to the worship of the golden image. But the three Hebrews made no mention of these things; they knew that a controversy with the king would only increase his fury. YI March 8, 1904, par. 6

Standing before the angry monarch, with the image in sight, and the sound of the entrancing music in their ears, these young men thought of the promise made to the prophet Isaiah more than one hundred years before: “Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned, neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.” YI March 8, 1904, par. 7

The answer of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego was respectful, but decided. Looking with calmness upon the fiery furnace and the idolatrous throng, they said: “O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so [if this be your decision], our God whom we serve will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.” These Hebrew youth had unquestioning faith in God, and they were determined to honor him at any cost. Their faith strengthened with the declaration that God would be glorified by delivering them, and with a triumphant ring of trust in their voices, they added: “But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” YI March 8, 1904, par. 8

Mrs. E. G. White